Joe Barrett threw his right index finger in the air as he pointed toward the sky when he approached the finish line.
The Christian Brothers Academy junior was a couple steps away from winning the biggest race of his life at Saturday's 51st NJSIAA Meet of Champions at Holmdel Park, and the raw emotion of the moment was taking over.
"I was sick this week (missed school on Wednesday), so I was a little worried about how I'd race,'' said Barrett, who has been on antibiotics the last few days. "So when I came across the line I was just really happy that I was able to win. This is race that every runner wants to win, so to come out on top is just such a great feeling.''
Barrett's victory fueled a 1-5-9-11-12 finish for NJ No. 1/US No. 3 ranked CBA, which averaged 15:55.9, had a 1-5 split of 43 seconds and narrowly missed breaking the meet record for fewest points as the Colts ran away with its second straight title, 34-70 over NJ No. 2 Westfield. CBA has now captured a state record 26 M of C titles, two more than the rest of the state combined (there was no team scoring for boys at the first M of C).
The scorers for CBA, which put five runners ahead of Westfield's No. 2 man, were Barrett, senior Conor Clifford (Holmdel PR of 15:51), senior Alex Kemp (16:05), senior Jack Falkowski (16:09) and junior Alex Mastroly (16:10)
CBA's 34 points was just off the meet record of 31 points that CBA scored in 1999 when Brian Kerwin led the charge by becoming CBA's first individual champion.
CBA's epic performance was so dominant than we you score their top 5 against the entire field, the Colts come out with 38 points and the rest of the state finishes with 22. That's right, the rest of state combined only finished 16 points ahead of CBA. That's just ridiculous.
WATCH: Boys Meet of Champions Race
The 15:55.9 average is No. 3 in Holmdel Park history and marks the third time this season that CBA has dropped a sub 16 average on the legendary 3.1-mile layout! This CBA team now own three of the four fastest times ever run on the current Holmdel course, which has been used since 1979. Last week, CBA took down the course record average at Holmdel with a 15:51.8 at the State Non-Public A Championships!!! And at the Shore Coaches Invitatonal in September, the Colts ran 15:59 at Holmdel.
"The race didn't go as fast as it did last week,'' said Barrett. "So we didn't really have a chance at breaking our record, but it's all about winning and we went out there and did what we had to do and took care of business.''
Barrett, who ran 15:21 (No. 10 in Holmdel Park history) when he won the Non-Public A title last week, leveled up became the third CBA runner to capture the crown jewel of distance running in NJ as he joined Kerwin and Mike McClemens (2013) as Meet of Champions winners.
"It means so much to be added to that list of CBA greats who have won this,'' said Barrett. It's an honor.''
The individual race wasn't nearly as fast up front in the early stages as expected.
With no one wanting to lead, Barrett and the leaders, including Union Catholic's Jimmy Wischusen, and Peyton Shute of Gateway/Woodbury, hit the first mile in 5:21,10 seconds slower than the Non-Public A race.
"That's not what we wanted,'' said Barrett. "I knew I had to pick it up.'
Barrett and the lead pack started to real crank it up through the bowl, and Barrett led through the bowl and when they exited the bowl, Barrett was a step ahead of Wischusen with Shute just a few yards back.
"I hit that bowl mile fast,'' said Barrett. "I felt I had to get a gap by two miles if I wanted to win.''
When he hit the 2-mile mark, Barrett had opened a small gap on Wischusen after a big 4:56 second mile. Shute was in third place and in hot pursuit.
But then Wischusen, whose race status was up in the air after a cramped hamstring forced him to drop out after 2 miles last week, once again felt discomfort in the same hamstring, causing him to take a spill just before the tennis courts (near the 2.25-mile mark). He got up and valiantly continued, but eventually and unfortunately he couldn't continue after he rounded the tennis courts.
"I didn't know about that when it happened,'' said Barrett. "I took a look back when I started to go into the back woods after the tennis courts and I didn't see him. I only saw Shute.''
So it became a two-man battle between Barrett and Shute, just like it was when they raced at the Manhattan Invitational last month.
With about 1K to go, Shute stated to mount a big charge, hitting the gas on his way into the back woods, getting close to Barrett's heels as they made their way toward the big downhill. Barrett tried to shake Shute, but Shute stayed within striking distance as they exited the woods. Then Barrett found another gear and opened a 10-yard gap as he hit the top of the final straight.
With the crowd roaring, Barrett kept hammering before he crossed the line in 15:27. Shute, who ran his guts out, finished second in 15:33, a Holmdel PR by 10 seconds. Shute finished 11th last year.
The finish was very similar to when Barrett won the Eastern States race at Manhattan in 12:13.6 and Shute was second in 12:18.1.
Barrett, who remained undefeated on the season, said he had to dig down deep to pull out the victory.
"One of my friends was yelling during the race, asking me how bad I wanted it, so I had to close fast and give it all I had,'' said Barrett.
One of the big topics that came up after the race was whether this CBA team is the best pack in NJ history?
CBA still has work to be done before that can be decided, but this victory, the Holmdel Park course record average (15:51.8), and the fastest NJ averages ever at Bowdoin (16:07.8-No. 2 in course history) and Van Cortlandt (12:44.2-No. 2 in course history) have certainly given this high octane Colts crew a very strong case to earn that distinction.
How CBA performs at the Northeast Regional at Bowdoin in two weeks and at the National Championships in Oregon next month will determine its place in NJ history.